(Originally posted Friday, March 20, 2009)
I want to apologize for my lack of blogging lately. I know all 20 of my regular readers must be furious with me, and I certainly hope you found some other worthwhile ways to spend your time, like playing Rock Band or killing your enemies in rival Mexican drug gangs.
My posts will likely continue to be infrequent as there are many other projects pulling at my attention right now, some of them having to do with “The Retributioners” and others having to do with long-neglected creative and domestic work. Stephanie and I are looking forward to a challenging but perhaps very exciting year. We will keep you updated on everything that’s happening with us.
In the meantime, I am still slowly transitioning my blog to this WordPress account.
Some of the things I have been remiss in not commenting on are the continuing financial turmoil, the latest spending package in Congress and the flagrant greed and rapacity of companies that are purloining government money and rewarding themselves for not performing well (I’m looking in your direction, AIG).
Because I regard my blog as mainly comic in nature, I’ve been hesitant to start doing political rants again because 1) I don’t want to be shrill and 2) I do enough journalism elsewhere. However, it probably wouldn’t hurt if I did a send-up of that appalling spending bill at some point, blasting all its horrible earmarks. Yet it’s also important to remember that one of the reasons we vote for our Congressmen is that they go to Washington and grab money for us, setting up these same horrible pork-barrel projects in our backyard that get us work and give us nice, gray, ugly WPA-style buildings to stare at in awe. So, are the American people partly to blame for the spending bill? You betcha.
One of the ways I think we fail to understand our role in government is this way: the government shouldn’t be considered some abstract entity completely alienated from us. Our government is a complex expression of the demands we make on it. When a structure based on human demands reaches a point of too much complexity, it starts to take on what scientists call “an emergent property.” That means it starts acting according to its own rules and own logic. A human body, to give you a tidy analogy, is a complex organism whose desires and wants don’t necessarily reflect the immediate activity of its animal cells and tissues. Yet the activity of the cells are obviously a part of being a human.
So rather than bitch about Congress right now, think to yourself: Would you really be willing to call your Congressman and say: “I don’t want that new job-creating federal works project in my state. I don’t want it even though I know that over the river in New Jersey, there’s a pretty good chance someone like me is foaming at the mouth to take that money himself.”
OK, enough ranting. Here’s a top 10 list of the worst earmarks in the spending bill:
1) $10 million for a plant that makes earwax into a homoerotic sculptures like those figures photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe.
2) $20 million to teach beavers in North Carolina the symbols of North American Sign Language
3) $330,000 for a special dye that turns bags of Heparin anti-coagulant in every American emergency room green on St. Patrick’s Day.
4) $2 billion to completely recreate the island of Manhattan to scale in the South Dakota badlands
5) $500,000 to develop a car that changes colors when the driver is angry
6) $1 million to teach kids in south Texas the oft-needed pantomime of crossing their eyes
7) $4 million to get Angelina Jolie back together with her estranged father John Voight and thus sell millions of magazines and create thousands of jobs
8 ) $2 million to remove tattoos from the spouses of American Idol contestants
9) $1 million to promote the “taste” of American “food” to the Chinese.
10) No more money for 10. Sorry.